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Content Marketing and Online Trust: The Case of Promoting Knowledge for Video Game Shoppers

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This paper aims to discover content marketing techniques to create online trust and to help content strategists develop an effective strategy. It investigates the role of different content types and techniques used to convey the message to promote knowledge among customers and their impact on the customers perceived trust. In this research, a quantitative approach was adopted; questionnaires were given to visitors of an Iranian online store specializing in video games. Eventually, 406 responses were received and analyzed by using structural equation modeling. The results show that different kinds of content and techniques conveying the messages of contents have a positive and meaningful correlation with online trust, though the effectiveness of all the content types and approaches was not verified. The results indicate that using the written reviews by experts, Twitter updates, video clips, news and step by step guides have indeed a significant relationship to online customer's trust. Furthermore, entertaining and inspiring approaches to content messages have a positive relationship with online trust.
Conceptual models Assumptions related to content types Posts on Instagram: Communications are two-way in social media. In this context, it is important to note that the usage behavior of Iranian users of Instagram is different from the goals of Instagram and from usage behavior of Instagram users in the rest of the world. The purpose of Instagram is to share photos, moving pictures, and short videos with an emphasis on visual content. However, Iranians view Instagram as an alternative to Facebook. For example, they do not comply with the photo caption limit of Instagram and post lengthy captions on the network; additionally, there is a two-way interaction between the brands and customers, and the private chat feature is used as a public chat. H1-1: Posts on Instagram have a positive and meaningful impact on online trust. Until date, only one study has been conducted on the relationship between Instagram posts and trust (dba designs, 2014). The results of this study showed that only 30% participants considered the products recommended in the Instagram network as reliable. User comments: The users express their website experiences through comments. Websites use knowledge capture techniques for evaluating their users' ideas, and, subsequently, this knowledge is shared with others (Nah et al., 2002). H1-2: User comments have positive and significant impacts on online trust. Lists: Lists are a type of content that is becoming a trend in content marketing. Lists, such as a list of best-selling products separated by the month and year, can be a good starting point for Internet customers (Nah et al., 2002). H1-3: Lists have a positive and significant effect on online trust Frequently asked questions (FAQs): The FAQs page is provided by many websites. The purpose of these pages is timely response to existing and prospective clients (The Content Marketing Institute, 2010). H1-4: FAQs have a positive and important impact on online trust Product Review by the experts: The comments of media persons and experts about products hold significance. In this way, customers can rely on the products and services of a business (Lewis, 2015). H1-5: Product reviews by experts have a positive and significant effect on online trust. Product descriptions: This content influences the final decision of visitors to the websites. At the same time, good quality product descriptions have a positive effect on a site's search engine ranking.
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Content Marketing and Online Trust: The Case of Promoting
Knowledge for Video Game Shoppers
Amir-reza Asadi
Kharazmi University
mail@amirreza.info
Hossein Norouzi
Kharazami Universtiy
norouzi@khu.ac.ir
Abstract
This paper aims to discover content marketing techniques to create online
trust and to help content strategists develop an effective strategy. It
investigates the role of different content types and techniques used to
convey the message to promote knowledge among customers and their
impact on the customers perceived trust. In this research, a quantitative
approach was adopted; questionnaires were given to visitors of an Iranian
online store specializing in video games. Eventually, 406 responses were
received and analyzed by using structural equation modeling. The results
show that different kinds of content and techniques conveying the
messages of contents have a positive and meaningful correlation with
online trust, though the effectiveness of all the content types and
approaches was not verified. The results indicate that using the written
reviews by experts, Twitter updates, video clips, news and step by step
guides have indeed a significant relationship to online customer's trust.
Furthermore, entertaining and inspiring approaches to content messages
have a positive relationship with online trust.
Keywords: Internet Marketing, Online Marketing, e-Commerce, Online Consumer Behavior,
Online Trust
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Introduction
Different segments of the society use the Internet. Based on the statistics, the rate of Internet
penetration in Iran in the first quarter rate of 2016 reached 82 % (TCI, 2015). In some provinces, such
as Tehran, Internet penetration has crossed the 100% mark. The e-marketing business has become
more appealing and has developed with a growing Internet audience. However, online marketing does
not necessarily mean success. Given that online marketing does not have the limitations of time and
space of traditional media and costs cheaper than mass media marketing, marketers send marketing
messages to existing and potential customers on a daily basis. While businesses try to increase the
number of visitors to their business website in numerous ways, purchases and transactions eventually
determine their business performance. In this context, it is important to note that the lack of online
trust among customers is one of the most important factors that makes visitors withdraw from
ecommerce websites. On the other hand, many businesses turn to online content marketing on a daily
basis (Symons, 2015). This research examined the effects of both the content purpose and tools of
content marketing on customer’s online trust. This study investigated an online store to examine the
effects of content marketing.
Along with promoting knowledge and information among users, appropriate content creates a sense of
trust in users and motivates them to purchase the goods. Content marketing is an appropriate
marketing tool for all businesses, regardless of their size (Ryan, 2014), and this drives businesses to
use this method of marketing increasingly. However, little academic research has been done on
content marketing (Symons, 2015). Examining which types of content and their associated
characteristics can build consumer trust will help business owners reduce costs of setting up and
maintaining businesses and spend their time and money to develop other aspects of their businesses.
Theoretical framework
Although content marketing is popular among businesses, little academic research has been conducted
in this area. Despite these limitations, attempts have been made to enrich this section. However, in
addition to academic papers, articles of well-known practitioners and marketing institutes were used in
this study.
The two main assumptions in this study are as follows:
H1) Different types of content have significant and positive impacts on online trust.
H2) The approach used for conveying the message through the content has an impact on online trust.
In the literature review, we investigated the following concepts of content, content marketing, content
strategy, and online trust.
Content: “Content” literally means “things that are contained in something” (Waite, 2012). This
concept has its roots in the publishing industry. Newspapers, magazines, radio, and TV channels
provide content to the audience. Content can include words and images that appeal to the target
audience (Holliman and Rowley, 2014). As per Handley and Chapman (2011), “Content is a broad
term that refers to anything created and uploaded to a website: the words, images, tools, or other things
that reside there.” Halvorson and Racks (2012) have provided a more comprehensive description of
content. Based on their definition, content is anything that a user interacts with, reads, learns, or
experiences.
Content Marketing: Content Marketing has existed for more than a century in various forms. In 1900,
a rubber manufacturing company, Michelin, began producing travel guides that included
recommendations for French drivers. In the pre-digital era, the direct mailing method was adopted to
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distribute this content. The customers who purchased the content favored the content in the form of
ideas, descriptions, and reviews. Hence, it can be stated that content marketing will remain effective
(Ryan, 2014).
The roots of content marketing can be traced to corporate storytelling. The business goals including
performing better in search engine rankings, increasing sales, or making a better use of social media
cannot be achieved without good storytelling. Storytelling is the key to attracting customers and
maintaining them (Pulizzi, 2012).
In this context, content marketing is defined as a marketing process or appropriate creation and
distribution of content aimed at attracting, communicating with, and understanding other people for
facilitating profitable activities (Pulizzi, 2012). Lieb (2011) asserts that content marketing is the
marketing of attraction. In the case of content marketing, the need of customers for related,
informative, useful, and occasionally entertaining information is met by the business. Content
marketing involves creating and sharing content for marketing purposes. Du Plessis (2015), after
reviewing 55 definitions of content marketing has provided the following definition: “Content
marketing is a strategic technique of brand storytelling, which targets changing inactive customer
behavior through media.” Since this study examines the impact of content marketing on online trust, it
is necessary to define online trust. In the existing research literature on human and computer
interaction, trust is considered as a factor that has an impact on the choice of human beings regarding
the use of computer systems (Muir, 1987). Internet shopping is an activity that essentially involves
interaction with computer systems, and devices having an Internet connection play a role similar to
that of a seller in a traditional store (Lee and Turban, 2001).
Online trust: It involves customers willing to make themselves vulnerable to the activities of an online
store, based on the expectation that the company will satisfy their important specific expectations,
apart from inspecting and managing the online store (Mayer et al., 1995).
Enhancing product knowledge and awareness before presenting products to the customers forms the
basis of content marketing and contributes toward building consumer trust and loyalty. Content
marketing creates a sense of trust and drives customers to purchase the goods. In addition, marketing
to existing customers through appropriate content leads to an increase in sales (Forouzandeh et al.,
2014).
Content Strategy: This study examines what kind of content and approach can create a sense of trust in
online customers. In fact, it helps to plan content that must be created for the users and hence is
closely associated with the content strategy.
A content strategy is effective in planning the creation, publishing, and management of beneficial
content that targets the customers (Halvorson and Rack, 2012).
The results of review of literature are presented in Table 1.
Ostovar’s (2013) research investigated technical features in websites for presenting content and
focused on website development; the results of the study show a weak focus of website designers on
the features related to content marketing
Mehdizadeh Melabashi and Esmaeili Kia (2014) proposed a conceptual model of content marketing in
Iran that is constructed from 12 elements including content consistency, proportion of form,
appropriate size, brilliant design, quality of content, freshness of topic, compatibility with customer’s
needs, alignment with customer’s desires, dexterity of content creators, worthiness of content, and
continuance in content publishing. Although content marketing is well covered in this model, it is not
useful for this research because the elements are overlapping and hence it is difficult to use this model
for quantitative research.
Forouzandeh et al.’s (2014) research examined the subject based on web design and software
engineering, respectively, and paid a limited attention to marketing.
All the studies presented in Table 1, except the studies by Forouzandeh et al. (2014) and Ostovar and
Zarei (2013), are qualitative. Du Plessis (2015) proposed a comprehensive model for content
marketing, but it is difficult to use the model for quantitative research. However, the communication
element of her model describes the technique used to convey content, which might be entertaining,
educating, and informing, among others. The content marketing matrix (Figure 1) by Chaffey and
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Bosomworth (2013) was published in the Smart Insights website. It encourages companies to look at
their own businesses from the perspective of a publisher (Babet, 2016). The features of this model
make it appropriate for use in this study.
Table 1. Review of literature
Research
Author/year
Featured characteristics
Get Content, Get customers
Pulizzi (2012)
All the marketing tools are useless
without having content marketing
strategy
Content and structural comparison
of public sport and entertainment
websites in the selected countries
and providing a model for Iran
Ostovar (2013)
Iranian websites are weak on
content features
The content marketing matrix
Chaffey, D. & Bosomoworth
(2013)
This model propose four
approaches of entertaining,
enthusiastic, educational and
encouraging and different types of
content can be seen in this model
Business to business digital
content marketing
Holliman (2014)
On general, long-term content are
effective whether in text or in
video
Content marketing through data
mining in Facebook
Forouzande(2014)
Content marketing creates trust
among customers with increasing
their knowledge
Identifying the factors affecting
content marketing and providing a
conceptual model for Iran
Mehdizade et al (2014)
A conceptual model of content
marketing factors in Iran
An exploratory analysis of
essential elements of content
marketing
Du Plessis (2015)
A framework to examine content
marketing include media, strategy,
essence, communication, and
peripheral elements
The Art of Content :How
Businesses and Agencies Valuate
Digital Content Marketing
Symons (2015)
Investigating the effectiveness of
content
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Figure 1. Content marketing matrix, Smart Insights (2014)
Using the content marketing matrix and different types of content used in the population, a conceptual
model was created as shown in Figure 2. Furthermore, the communication element of Du Plessis’s
(2015) model, which is a technique that is used to convey marketing messages, is used as a supporting
framework for the content section of the model. To investigate the effect of variables of content
marketing tools and approaches used for message delivery on online trust, 11 and 4 variables were
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used, respectively, under separate categories, as shown in Figure 2. These variables have been created
based on the secondary premises of the research and have been elaborated in the subsequent section.
Figure 2. Conceptual models
Assumptions related to content types
Posts on Instagram: Communications are two-way in social media. In this context, it is important to
note that the usage behavior of Iranian users of Instagram is different from the goals of Instagram and
from usage behavior of Instagram users in the rest of the world. The purpose of Instagram is to share
photos, moving pictures, and short videos with an emphasis on visual content. However, Iranians view
Instagram as an alternative to Facebook. For example, they do not comply with the photo caption limit
of Instagram and post lengthy captions on the network; additionally, there is a two-way interaction
between the brands and customers, and the private chat feature is used as a public chat.
H1-1: Posts on Instagram have a positive and meaningful impact on online trust. Until date, only one
study has been conducted on the relationship between Instagram posts and trust (dba designs, 2014).
The results of this study showed that only 30% participants considered the products recommended in
the Instagram network as reliable.
User comments: The users express their website experiences through comments. Websites use
knowledge capture techniques for evaluating their users’ ideas, and, subsequently, this knowledge is
shared with others (Nah et al., 2002).
H1-2: User comments have positive and significant impacts on online trust.
Lists: Lists are a type of content that is becoming a trend in content marketing. Lists, such as a list of
best-selling products separated by the month and year, can be a good starting point for Internet
customers (Nah et al., 2002).
H1-3: Lists have a positive and significant effect on online trust
Frequently asked questions (FAQs): The FAQs page is provided by many websites. The purpose of
these pages is timely response to existing and prospective clients (The Content Marketing Institute,
2010).
H1-4: FAQs have a positive and important impact on online trust
Product Review by the experts: The comments of media persons and experts about products hold
significance. In this way, customers can rely on the products and services of a business (Lewis, 2015).
H1-5: Product reviews by experts have a positive and significant effect on online trust.
Product descriptions: This content influences the final decision of visitors to the websites. At the same
time, good quality product descriptions have a positive effect on a site’s search engine ranking.
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Product descriptions must engage visitors, encourage them, and eventually drive product sales (Patel,
2015).
H1-6: Product description has a positive and significant effect on online trust.
Brand content: Here, the focus is not on creating content for advertising brands or exclusive content
generated by businesses. However, it means using the promotional content of a brand in a different
business such as a third party online marketplace. User’s preconceived credit is based on estimates
conducted in general. A brand that is heard more has a more preconceived credit (Fogg et al., 2001)
and the content produced by this brand generates more trust.
H1-7: Brand content has a positive and significant impact on online trust.
Twitter posts: According to latest statistics, twitter has 310 million active users (Statista, 2016).
Twitter is a social network for microblogging. Microblogging directly impacts the electronic word of
mouth communication because it allows customers to express brand-affecting thoughts (Jansen et al.,
2009), and hence it could be important for building online trust. In this context, the 140-character limit
in twitter and its widespread updates have led marketing agencies to list their services in a separate
section devoted to writing tweets.
H1-8: Tweets have positive and significant effects on online trust.
Video Clips: Fishkin and Høgenhaven (2013) divided content into three categories: text, video, and
image. Videos are optimized for search engines; they improve a website’s rankings as users spend a
long time on the website, which contributes toward increasing the value of a link in search engines
(MacMaster, 2014).
H1-9: Video clips have significant and positive effects on online trust.
News: This is the simplest type of content that can be created. Marketers should prioritize content
creation for dissemination through news and blogging platforms (Ryan, 2014)
H1-10: News has a positive and significant impact on online trust.
Step-by-step guides
H1-11: Step-by-step educational materials have significant and positive effects on online trust.
Educational approach: Educational content teaches people new things. People tend to learn new
information and gain knowledge (Babet, 2016).
H2-1: Educational content has positive and significant impacts on online trust.
Entertainment approach: Auction pages seldom contribute toward customer conversion. Users
superficially visit virtual spaces and may find a website worth their attention. Marketers should
provide entertaining content to visitors to attract their attention (Chaffey and Bosomworth, 2013).
H2-2: Entertaining content has positive and significant impacts on online trust.
Convincing approach: This type of content can help users to understand a business’s reputation and
functionality of products and services ( Babet, 2016).
H2-3 Convincing content has a positive and significant impact on online trust.
Inspirational approach: Social approval and verification of previous clients can motivate a website’s
visitors to transact with the company. In fact, this content demonstrates the actual performance of a
business.
H2-4 Inspirational content has a positive and significant impact on online trust.
Research Methodology
In this study, we seek to provide practical solutions to improve the existing situation wherein online
retailers are unable to gain the trust of online consumers. As a result, this study is considered practical
and descriptive. This study is correlational as it investigated the relationships between the variables. The
population of the research comprised online users of an online retailer of video games having 200,000
monthly visitors and 11,000 followers in the Instagram. This store supplies various products in the field
of video games. The profile of respondents in this study was investigated by their age, gender, and
employment status. The demographic characteristics of the respondents were as follows: 391
respondents were male and 15 were female. In terms of age, about 70% of users were aged between 12
and 25 years. In terms of employment status, 7.4% users were unemployed, 16% were employed, and
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10.1% were both working and studying; however, a majority of users (69.2%) were students. For
constructing the theoretical framework, the data collected from library resources, relevant research
articles, theses, and the population was investigated. A questionnaire was used to collect field data. For
this purpose, an online questionnaire was sent via Google. The questionnaire was also sent to the store’s
clients through its Telegram channel. Four hundred and six responses were received.
In this study, the users of video game retailer have been considered as the population. Given the infinity
of society, based on the Jersey Morgan and Sanders tables (margin of error of 5%), the sample size was
considered to be 384 (Norouzi and Movahedifar, 1394). The first part of the questionnaire studied
demographic characteristics and the second part examined the hypothetical questions. As the research
model examines the impact of content marketing on online trust, the questionnaire investigated the
concepts of content marketing and online trust. The questionnaire by Teo and Liu (2007) was used to
investigate trust among customers, and the questionnaire by Ha (2015) was used to measure the
effectiveness of Instagram. Due to limited academic research in the field of content marketing, other
questions required to investigate this concept were created by the researcher. Surveys on website
usability were used while designing questions on content marketing because the knowledge of user
experience (UX) design is useful during the creation of a content strategy (Kissane, 2010).
This research also studied five instruments used in the study by Tullis and Stetson (2004). Finally, based
on supervisors and advisors’ comments, the main questionnaire was composed of 49 questions. The
items were measured using the five-point Likert scale ranging from 15. In order to check the validity
of the measurement instrument, three experts each from the fields of management and marketing,
Internet marketing, and Information Technology were consulted, and the questionnaire was revised
based on their comments. These experts gave an overall approval on the questionnaire, and two
questions were removed to make the questionnaire shorter.
The statistical package for the social science (SPSS) software was used for conducting a descriptive
analysis. Structural equation modeling was used for inferential statistics. For this, the SmartPLS
software was used. The main hypotheses were investigated using the general model, and the secondary
hypotheses were investigated using the models for each variable.
Results
The most basic measure used to evaluate the relationship between the variables in the model (structural
division) was a significant t number. If the value of this number exceeds 1.96, then the validity of the
relationship between variables would be confirmed, and as a result research hypotheses would be at a
confidence level of 0.95 (Davari and Zadeh, 2014). It should be noted that the numbers only show the
accuracy, and the intensity of the relationship between variables cannot be measured with them.
Table 2) the path coefficient and T value for main variables.
Independent variable
Dependent variable
Path coefficient
T-value
Different types of
content
Online trust
0.311
3.89
Approaches in content
Online trust
0.359
4.436
The T values for the main assumptions (1 and 2) are given in Table 3 below. Since the values are
higher than 96/1, 1 and 2 assumptions are confirmed; it implies that the positive and significant
impacts of different types of content and approaches on online trust are approved. Based on the model
coefficients, the significant effects of different types of content (Figure 3), significant and positive
impacts of news, step-by-step tutorials, video clips, Twitter posts, and experts’ reviews on online trust
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were confirmed. Based on the standardized coefficients of each of these variables (Figure 5), different
types of content were ranked in the following table.
Table 3) Ranking of different types of content based on the effectiveness on online trust
Rank
1
2
3
4
5
To investigate the secondary assumptions of the second assumption, a separate model (Figure 4) was
used. Accordingly, the impacts of entertaining content and inspirational content on online trust were
confirmed.
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Figure 3. The model of significant coefficient of different content types
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Figure 4. Significant coefficient of different approaches of content on online trust
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Figure 5. Standard coefficients of different types of content variables
Conclusion
The first hypothesis of this study investigated the significant effects of different types of content on the
trust of online customers. Based on the investigations and structural equation modeling calculations,
the statistically significant effects of different types of content on online trust were confirmed. These
results were in line with the results of Forouzandeh et al. (2014) and Holliman and Rowley (2015).
The second hypothesis investigated the impact of different approaches used for delivering online
messages, which was also was confirmed. From the variables of the first hypothesis, the significant
and positive impacts of news, tutorials, video clips, Twitter, and experts’ reviews on online trust were
approved. The positive and significant impact of expertsreviews on online trust was in line with the
results of Lewis (2015). Concerning the views expressed in Instagram, the users enquired about the
personal opinion of the online store’s manager on the products. Accordingly, it is appropriate for the
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managers to post reviews by experts on their websites to expand websites’ audience and create a sense
of trust in visitors. A significant and positive correlation was confirmed between Twitter and online
trust. The results were in line with the poll results of Fleishman-Hillard (2010). A significant and
positive impact of video clips on online trust was confirmed. The increasing use of video content can
lead to increased online trust. In MacMaster’s (2014) study, the use of video content was found to
increase customer conversion rate. However, the customers conversion rate does not depend only on
online trust. A significant and positive impact of news release on trust online was confirmed. The
results showed that news releases could enhance online trust. This means that a website can earn the
trust of customers by providing a comprehensive coverage of industry news. The results confirmed a
significant and positive impact of step-by-step online training on online trust. As this effect is direct in
nature, marketers can increase online trust by publishing more step-by-step educational content. These
are long-term content. Based on Holliman and Rowley (2015) findings, long-term content can create
trust. Among the approaches for delivering message to customers, the effects of entertaining and
inspirational content on online trust were confirmed. Both these approaches reflect the emotional
dimension of the content marketing matrix, which means that both the approaches use emotions rather
than logic to create trust in customers. Therefore, the use of tools that stimulate users' emotions can be
useful in gain their trust.
Based on the findings of this study, we recommend that businesses should align their customer
knowledge management efforts with their content marketing strategy. In addition, product ratings in
famous websites should be incorporated into the product review section to help customers take a better
decision. As stated earlier, online content marketing can be effective in building trust among
customers. Some content marketing tools can be more effective than the other tools. An understanding
of the factors affecting content marketing can help the planning related to content creation. Due to
limited research in this area, it is proposed that the researchers should replicate this study with
different populations and investigate the impacts on customers' decision to purchase, loyalty, and risk-
taking. In addition, the researchers should investigate what type of content is more effective for
different age groups
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